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Mother, daughter bring new affordable housing to north Minneapolis

A mother and daughter emigrated from Kenya to build a life in the Twin Cities, and now, they're helping other families by building affordable homes.

MINNEAPOLIS — Mother and daughter Jeniffer and Joanne Kuria are the proud owners of Amani Construction & Development

Amani means "peace" in Swahili. They chose the word as a nod to Kenya, where they emigrated from about 20 years ago. 

"My mom and I have a really wonderful relationship," daughter Joanne said. "Trying to find housing on our own really led my mom to want to be able to find stable housing not just for our family but to be able to do that for other families as well."

This year alone, they've brought five homes to north Minneapolis, including two brand new homes currently being built in the Harrison neighborhood at 1905 and 1909 5th Ave. N. — right next door to each other.

The Kurias say construction began in July after the city of Minneapolis selected Amani for its Minneapolis Homes: Financing Program. On the city's webpage, the program is described as "competitive." It's designed to "eliminate racial disparities in homeownership" by selling city owned properties, and funding affordable housing projects, the website says.

"Before we began, it was just land," Joanne said. "We are doing this in partnership with the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, who then connected us to Andersen Windows … The neat thing about both of these homes is they're net zero-ready homes, which means they're super sustainable and very energy efficient."

Andersen Windows & Doors donated all of the windows within both homes. As the various partnerships help the family business grow, the Kurias plan to build 15 affordable homes next year.

"Every family needs a place to call home, but for many families, systemic inequities in housing policies and racial discrimination in housing continue to prevent families from achieving the goal of homeownership," senior communications and community director Eliza Chlebeck said in a press release. "Andersen Corporation is proud to partner with organizations like Amani working to close the racial equity gap in housing."

For the home at 1909 5th Ave. N., construction is estimated to be complete within the next couple of months. A crew installed the donated windows Tuesday. The home next door is nearly ready and should be complete by the end of October.

No one has put in an offer on the homes just yet. To be eligible, your household income may not exceed 80 percent of the "area median income."

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